07 March 2013

The Circle of Life

Part of farm life, especially when animals are involved, is learning to accept the circle of life.  There is a balance between predator and prey that humans try to interrupt but often fail.  On our little homestead in Iowa, we had our share of losses, especially with the chickens.  We never did discover the culprit but it's hard to defeat a cunning predator once they stumble upon a flock of roosting hens.
No worries--the hawk wasn't injured by anyone.  She's playing, "I'm big and scary, so don't mess with me."
This time though, it wasn't us.  My mother went out back after work and to her surprise, none of the hens came running up the porch as they usually do.  It didn't take long to discover why.
A red tailed hawk had victimized Pepper, a pretty little barred rock.  The poor hen almost made it to the safety of the deck but was seconds too late.  However, even more sad was the hawk.  She was hungry enough that she wouldn't leave her prey even when she was picked up by a human and moved.  The drought has been rough on raptors since the mice and rabbit populations suffered causing them to go hungry too.
My dad put Pepper's body in the garden and they counted the rest of the hens, some taking refuge in the coop, others hiding beneath some tree trimmings.  After everyone was safe and sound, they released the hawk, who flew right over and started to feast.  It's sad but death is part of life.  We're just hoping next time the hawk sticks with rodents.
Farewell Pepper!  Thank you for the eggs and the memories!

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